Research and innovation in supply chain & logistics in the retail sector has declined in the last year.

The most recent figures show that the number of supply chain and logistics related patent applications in the industry stood at 74 in the three months ending May – down from 107 over the same period in 2021.

Figures for patent grants related to supply chain and logistics followed a different pattern to filings – growing from 81 in the three months ending May 2021 to 91 in the same period in 2022.

The figures are compiled by GlobalData, who track patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Using textual analysis, as well as official patent classifications, these patents are grouped into key thematic areas, and linked to key companies across various industries.

Supply chain and logistics is one of the key areas tracked by GlobalData. It has been identified as being a key disruptive force facing companies in the coming years, and is one of the areas that companies investing resources in now are expected to reap rewards from.

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By GlobalData

The figures also provide an insight into the largest innovators in the sector.

Walmart Inc was the top supply chain and logistics innovator in the retail sector in the latest quarter. The company, which has its headquarters in the United States, filed 20 supply chain and logistics related patents in the three months ending May. That was down from 21 over the same period in 2021.

It was followed by the China based JD.com Inc with 16 supply chain and logistics patent applications, China based Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (11 applications), and the United Kingdom based Ocado Group Plc (9 applications).

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has recently ramped up R&D in supply chain and logistics. It saw growth of 18.2% in related patent applications in the three months ending May compared to the same period in 2021 - the highest percentage growth out of all companies tracked with more than 10 quarterly patents in the retail sector.